Paperback Writer welcomes guest author Linda Thieman who is on a virtual book tour promoting her book Katie & Kimble a chapter book series. Stick around, grab a cup of coffee and join us for the interview with Linda.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Linda Thieman (pronounced TEE-mun) writes the Katie & Kimble chapter book series (RL3) and runs the Katie & Kimble Blog (http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com). She is a former English language teacher who has created a set of reading skills worksheets and classroom materials that teachers and homeschoolers can download from the Katie & Kimble Blog free of charge. The materials correspond to the first two books in the Katie & Kimble series and are guided by the standards set for third grade reading skills in Iowa school systems.
Linda lives in Sioux City, Iowa. She hopes to publish Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door (book 3) in 2009.
You can visit Linda’s website at http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com/
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Nine-year-old Katie Russell and her family LOOK like a normal family. But the Russells don’t know they are living with Kimble, the ghost of a ten-year-old girl. That is, until Katie discovers Kimble and the two of them set off on a quest to find out what happened to Kimble’s mother. — Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story is a chapter book at RL3 (reading level 3), and is the first in a series. The Katie & Kimble books are funny, engaging and exciting, but are not fear-based.
Welcome to Paperback Writer
PBW: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
LT: Sure. I had just come back to the States from Japan, where I’d been teaching English as a Second Language for 5 years at an American university. While I was there, I had written my first novel and at the same time, I had developed a lot of low-level materials for adults and really enjoyed that aspect of the job. So it was not that big of a leap to decide to write children’s novels.
But certain things about children’s literature had long bothered me. For instance, it seems that in so many books, the kids are independent because they are neglected or even abused. I wanted to create a series about a girl, Katie, who is just turning 9 and who grows in independence everyday because her parents help her to be!
PBW: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as you write it?
LT: Right from the beginning, I’ve had rough outlines of the first six Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story books planned out. Since each story builds on the last story, it’s important to know right off the bat what I need to accomplish in each book in terms of story and character development. For example, Katie is the kind of girl who likes to help people. Gradually, she wakes up to her true calling, that of a healer. So there has to be movement in that thread in each book. And Kimble, the ghost of a 10-year-old girl, is sort of “stuck” in that whole ghost-as-victim mode, so in each book, Kimble learns more of what it means to be a ghost and she gradually loses the victim mentality—at which point she decides to stay with Katie’s family for a while because she wants to rather than because she is stuck there.
That being said, it amazes me how the stories take off on their own once I start writing them. Or, sometimes, I’ll be at a stand still with a certain plot line, say, in the third book, which I’m writing now, and then suddenly more details for future books start coming through, which then shape the current book. There is something to be said for not rushing through it.
PBW: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
LT: So far, yes. As a matter of fact, the first scene I wrote in Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story was the very last scene. It was coming through fully formed, so I was smart enough to jot it down at the time! I’ve discovered that if you don’t write it down when it comes through, you just lose it completely.
PBW: Do you have a process for developing your characters?
LT: I suppose so. Whereas I do generally plan out for each book that x, y and z need to be accomplished in terms of character development, the fun part is letting the characters take off and develop in ways that I had not anticipated.
For example, Katie’s dad, Mr. Russell, is a teacher who stays home with Katie and her little brother during the summer. He is not really well developed in the first book, but he owns the second book, Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish. And the fact that we don’t know him well from the first book adds a kind of suspense to the second book since the whole plot point of Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish rather hinges upon how Mr. Russell is going to react when he finds out about Kimble.
The Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story series starts out in early summer, so I’ve got a lot of summer plots to work through. So, just what kind of a guy is Mr. Russell? We know that he is something of an environmentalist. When he put up a swing in the backyard, he did so without putting nails in the tree. When he does the grocery shopping, he always takes canvas bags with him. He reminds me a lot of a friend I used to teach with, one of those guys who was just very competent and could do anything. So Mr. Russell will naturally expand in character as a gardener and a thrifty garage sale attendee. These things I had not planned out right from the beginning, but the character is now taking form very clearly and because of that, he is informing the structure of future books.
PBW: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
LT: My sister says that I’m all over the Katie & Kimble books! She’ll read one of the books and laugh and say, “This sounds just like you!”
My sense of humor runs throughout the books. Some other things—like Katie’s mom, I like to take time to think things over and to make decisions. Like Katie, I am rather independent minded. Like Katie’s dad, I am rather direct and to the point. Like Kimble, I like to gently tease people when they are being silly. Or the way that Kimble will race Katie up the stairs—clearly not a fair contest—but Kimble doesn’t care. She does it anyway and thinks it’s funny. I also like the stories to have a sense of emotional completion, which I think a lot of the stories I read as a child lacked. So I always include that kind of thing.
PBW: What is your most favorite part about this book?
LT: I assume you mean “What is your favorite scene in this book?” I have a couple of favorite scenes, but I’ll just mention one of them. When the kids tell me what they like about Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story, they say things like, “Katie is always getting into trouble.” Well, that’s true, but it always comes from either her attempt to find out more information about Kimble or from her desire to help Kimble. In the first case, Katie is looking for information about Kimble in a nearby cemetery and she inadvertently falls into an open grave. Twinkle’s barking alerts the caretaker to the situation and he comes over to help her out. But before he does, he just sort of stands there looking down at her, cracking jokes and laughing himself silly while Katie waits patiently for him to finish with the comments and get around to helping her. That is one of my favorite scenes because I find Mr. Clem, the caretaker, to be so funny.
PBW: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
LT: I think it was once I had already finished the second book in the series, Katie & Kimble: The Magic Wish, which picks up right where Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story leaves off.
PBW: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
LT: Well, it’s been some time since I actually sent out to a publisher. After numerous rejections and a couple of nibbles, I put the project on hold for a while. It may not have been what the publishing industry was looking for because I break with so many conventions in children’s lit. For example, Katie’s parents actually participate in the story and become rather well-formed characters. That is not generally the norm in kids’ books.
And I have always clung tenaciously to my vision for the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story series. At one writing workshop I attended, the speaker made the comment that the trouble with writing a chapter book series is that the characters are always the same age and so they can never learn and grow. And I’m thinking this is simply not true. In the Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story series, both Katie and Kimble grow and develop in tangible ways in every story.
So in the end, when the world of POD exploded and became highly affordable and competitive, I knew that is what would be right for me, with my vision for the series intact and no interference from a publisher.
PBW: What has been the best part about being published?
LT: My illustrator asked her daughter if she’d like to read Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story while we were working on the pictures. Her daughter said, “No, I’ll read it after it’s a real book.” That the first two books of the series are now “real books” is the greatest thrill. Kids relate to “real books” much more than they do to manuscripts.
PBW: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
LT: The reason I decided to do a series was because I wanted to create a sense of comfort and optimism that kids could keep going back to. In the Katie & Kimble books, there is kind of a cozy feeling, a happy feeling. There are no nasty characters who are there just to cause trouble. Whereas it’s true that Katie does find herself in a bit of trouble from time to time, it grows out of the situations, and all is right in the end.
PBW: Do you have plans to write another book?
LT: Yes, I am currently working on book three in the series, called Katie & Kimble: The Golden Door. In this book, Katie makes her first new friend—a 10-year-old boy named Danny Garcia. He’s a bit wild, but very good-hearted, and I think he’ll fit nicely into the lives of Katie and Kimble. At the end of the summer, Danny will be in 5th grade and Mr. Russell, Katie’s dad, will be his teacher.
PBW: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
LT: I’ve found the folks at PUYBP to be very friendly and helpful, very organized, and willing to listen to suggestions for reaching my target audience.
PBW: Where can readers find a copy of your book?
The books are available at Amazon.com.
PBW: Do you have a website for readers to go to?
TH: The Katie & Kimble Blog is closely monitored and has daily updates, generally designed for my young readers. But I also include free downloadable teaching / homeschooling materials, and lots of free activities, like musical e-cards, coloring pages, word puzzles, funny stories about my childhood when I was the same age as the Katie & Kimble readers, a way to ask the author a question, songs from the books, and links to learning websites that kids can go to in order to help feed the world. That kind of thing would have greatly appealed to me when I was young.
Thank you, Linda for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.
KATIE AND KIMBLE VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ’09 officially began on January 1 and will end on January 30. You can visit Linda’s blog stops at http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in January to find out more about this talented lady!